Rap » Hip-Hop/Urban » West Coast Rap

West Coast Rap dominated the hip-hop scene for the middle section of the '90s, making gangsta rap into a popular phenomenon and establishing Dr. Dre as one of the most influential figures in rap history. Still, even if Dre's patented G-funk defined the West Coast sound and style for many, California's rap scene was a great deal more diverse. Up until the mid- to late '80s, West Coast rap mostly imitated East Coast party rap, already considered old-school in its place of origin; however, both Los Angeles and the Bay Area soon proved to be fertile pastures. The former produced the landmark proto-gangsta recordings of Ice-T, the hugely influential, Latino-tinged stoner funk of Cypress Hill, and the warped comedy of the Pharcyde; the Bay Area countered with the pimp-obsessed rhymes of Too $hort, the P-Funk-inspired, good-humored Digital Underground, and the pop breakthrough of MC Hammer. In short, West Coast rap became as eclectic and difficult to pigeonhole as East Coast rap. However, N.W.A.'s 1989 gangsta-rap landmark Straight Outta Compton set the stage for a more identifiable West Coast style -- its sound was hard-hitting and minimalistic, its lyrics alternating between violent hedonism and righteously angry social commentary. Upon leaving N.W.A., Ice Cube made solo records which maintained that lyrical tone while employing noisy, Public Enemy-style production; his bandmate Dr. Dre discovered Snoop Doggy Dogg, signed to Death Row Records, and at the end of 1992 released The Chronic, the album that defined G-funk and spawned legions of imitators. The Chronic's gangsta hedonism and production style -- whiny synthesizers, rolling P-Funk beats, and deep, slow grooves -- provided the blueprint that made Death Row the biggest hip-hop label of the early '90s, scoring hits by Snoop, Warren G., Tha Dogg Pound, and more. Controversial gangsta star 2Pac joined the label in late 1995 and became a crossover superstar with the Dre duet "California Love," and Coolio had taken a more pop-oriented version of the West Coast sound to the top of the charts earlier in the year with "Gangsta's Paradise." However, West Coast dominance soon crumbled -- 2Pac was murdered in 1996, Dre jumped ship, and Death Row CEO Suge Knight was jailed over business practices. By the end of the '90s, hip-hop's focus had turned back to the East Coast and to the emerging South.

West Coast Rap Artists Highlights

N.W.A
N.W.A
Snoop Dogg
Snoop Dogg
2Pac
2Pac
Kendrick Lamar
Kendrick Lamar
Warren G
Warren G
Cypress Hill
Cypress Hill

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West Coast Rap Album Highlights

Straight Outta Compton
N.W.A
Straight Outta Compton
DAMN.
Kendrick Lamar
DAMN.
Me Against the World
2Pac
Me Against the World
The Chronic
Dr. Dre
The Chronic
Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde
The Pharcyde
Bizarre Ride II the ...
Doggystyle
Snoop Dogg
Doggystyle

More West Coast Rap Albums

West Coast Rap Song Highlights

Title/Composer Performer Stream
California Love 2Pac
Nuthin' But a "G" Thang Dr. Dre / Snoop Dogg
Murder Was the Case Snoop Dogg
Straight Outta Compton N.W.A
Regulate Warren G
It Was a Good Day Ice Cube
How I Could Just Kill a Man Cypress Hill
The Humpty Dance Digital Underground
Boyz-n-the Hood Eazy-E
Freaky Tales Too $hort

More West Coast Rap Songs

Other Styles in Hip-Hop/Urban